Elon Musk’s X shed 1,000 employees across team tasked to combat online hate

Amid rise in “hateful and toxic” content on the platform, Elon Musk’s X told an Australian watchdog that it has shed around 1,000 employees from its ‘safety’ team, which is responsible for stopping abusive content online.

Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter.(REUTERS)
Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter.(REUTERS)

According to the new figures released online by Australia’s online watchdog eSafety Commission, a thousand job cuts were made in the team since Musk acquired Twitter, leading to a rise in hateful content on the platform.

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eSafety Commission said these “deep cuts” and the reinstatement of thousands of banned accounts had created a “perfect storm” for the spread of harmful content. The online regulator said that Elon Musk’s takeover of X, formerly Twitter, coincided with a spike in “toxicity and hate” on the platform.

The commission acquired a detailed breakdown of the staff currently working at X, including software engineers and content moderators, using Australia’s groundbreaking Online Safety Act. Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, a former Twitter employee, said it was the first time these figures had been made public.

The data collated by the online safety regulator showed that 1,213 specialist “trust and safety staff”, including contractors, had left X since it was acquired by Musk in October 2022.

80 per cent software engineers leave X

The Australian watchdog saw that among the resignations and layoffs in X after Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform, 80 per cent of the employees were software engineers focused on “trust and safety issues”.

“To take 80 percent of these specialist engineers away, it would be like Volvo — known for its safety standards — eradicating all of their designers or engineers,” Commissioner Julie Inman told AFP.

“You’ve got a perfect storm. You’re drastically decreasing your defences, and you’re introducing repeat offenders back onto the platform,” she further added.

The eSafety Commission last year imposed a fine of Aus$610,500 (US$388,000) after the company failed to show how it was cracking down on child pornography. However, X surpassed the deadline to pay the fine and took legal action to get it overturned.

(With inputs from AFP)

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